Guest post by BJJ black belt Paweł Kaczyński, head coach of Chaos Gold Team in Poland.
Nowadays when so many online materials are available to learn BJJ the problem is not content access, but rather structure and quality control. When I started BJJ, my coach learned techniques from magazines and early UFC tapes so all I knew back in 2001 was basically kimura, triangle and armbar.
I had no problem, because my choices were limited. Now there are so many different styles, techniques and transitions, probably only few would name them all. It’s obvious if you try every new move you saw online that you’d drown. So, here is my approach to learning new moves. If you don’t want to read whole TL;DR at the end:
- **Listen to your coach.**
- It is so trivial and obvious that it become undervalued. Every time I visit my home academy, I try to do my coach’s techniques and use them in sparring. If my coach is doing them, it means they work, right?
- **Always improve what you know.**
- Despite being black belt, I always try to get rid of the belief that I know something perfectly. I was in a seminar with Braulio Estima. He was showing rear naked choke. Every one of us has done it like a million times. What new can you possibly learn about this simple technique, right? My mind was blown. He showed so many little details about how to prepare attack, grab the choke, finish using shoulder, etc.
- **Be mindful during training.**
- Although I got to know just recently it is called that way, I sort of used it before. I am not the smartest regarding mindfulness, but the general concept is to be self-aware of your body and surroundings, and to focus on the present moment.
When learning a new technique, it’s not only about grabbing right hand with left one or doing a certain maneuver, but the most important is how you will do it. It’s about details such as, “do you put pressure with your wrist?”, “do you have stability on your right foot?”, or “are you in a position that allows you to defend potential sweep?”.
I recommend you reading more about it. I am on 5th week of this programme. I don’t know if it’s best one, but works for me so far:
- **Structure your knowledge.** Regardless of your level, make sure you have at least 1 technique from every position you can do at a decent level instinctively during sparring. You can write it down if it’s helpful, or just think what would I do if I am half-guard bottom, closed guard top, mounted, etc.
To present you what I mean, here’s my personal scheme:
- Whenever I am in half-guard bottom, I try to grab my opponent’s belt between his legs, pass it to the upper hand and go for sweep. If it doesn’t work I aim to get closed guard.
- Whenever I am in closed guard top, I try to posture up and pressure down on one of my opponent’s knees, or I aim to tie his hand with his lapel.
- Whenever I am mounted, I either try to push one of his hips off, I try mount -> half-guard escape, or catch his arm and try simple roll to one side.
- **Online techniques.** I think they are like cookies: they are nice when you eat one, but you will get sick if you eat whole jar. This is also connected to all previous points. If you watch techniques online, focus on one that may fill a gap in your game (point 4), or improves one you do already (point 2). However, I always recommend to ask your coach first (point 1), as the online techniques usually don’t cover precise details your instructor will show you (point 3).
- **Ask for feedback.** I really don’t understand why, but I almost never meet with people asking for feedback after sparing. Someone is trying submission technique on me, I don’t tap. Fight ends, and he goes off to another partner and that’s it. Let me do a little digression here.
Some of you might be familiar with the software development approach called SCRUM. Again, I am not a scrum expert, but the general approach when writing code is to allocate some time for planning and precisely describing what you want to do, then you do it, and finally you have a review session where you discuss what could have been done better. Do you see my point already?
I always have some goals before sparring, and even competition, how exactly I want the fight to look like. After the fight is over (not during! There is this irritating type who comment and give advice while actually fighting), I ask specific questions:
- * Did you feel pressure when I was in side control?
- * How hard was it for you to defend omoplata sweep?
- * What do you think I can do to improve in my guard passing?
That’s the most important thing I ask everyone, not just black belts. You don’t have to train 10 years to tell if you were getting suffocated by triangle or not.
- * Train regularly.
- * Try one technique for a week/month and go for it consequently no matter how many times you will tap out.
- * Make a game plan before each sparring session for what you want to do as well as what you want to avoid.
- * Ask for feedback, both from your coach and sparring partners.
- * Which positions do you feel like you have no clue what to do in? Focus on them for some time.
- * Focus watching online techniques on two categories: 1) which you already know, but want to improve 2) positions you are totally helpless and don’t know any other techniques from
**List of resources:**
- http://breakingmuscle.com/brazilian-jiu-jitsu/the-beginners-guide-to-brazilian-jiu-jitsu Long article, but giving overall glympse
- http://www.beginningbjj.com/BJJ%20Roadmap%201.3.pdf This book by Stephen Kesting gives you a structure a shows what to focus on
- http://www.bjjlegends.com/maps/whitebeltmindmap_files/whitebeltmindmap.html Mind Map of basic positions and techniques with YouTube links
- Jiu Jitsu Video Platform. Submit video -> get a feedback
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mindfulness-practical-guide-finding-frantic/dp/074995308Xmindfullness training (how to be more focused)